I have been in business over 20 years but started out on my own in November of 2007, right before the big recession. I don’t know what it was like for you during that time period, but everywhere I turned I came across people who were scared. It was a scary time. No one knew what to expect. Was the economy going to completely fail? Was the stock market ever going to stop falling? How would we ever recover? I was wondering if I had made a mistake in starting a business during the worst recession of my lifetime.
Reading through the Bible, I came across various verses on peace. I began to wonder, “Is it possible to experience peace, even in uncertainty?” I had read about God’s peace or heard people talk about it, but I had never really experienced His peace myself, especially amid chaos.
Dictionary.com says, “Peace is cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.” It also defines it as, “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety.” In 2008, I didn’t have peace and I wasn’t finding it in anyone I worked with either. What amazes me is, even today, in an economy that has improved, I still don’t find many people who say they experience peace.
I learned a lot through this 10+ year period that changed my outlook, once I understood the perspective I was taught to operate from. I discovered the way we think about peace is incomplete, and there are industries and habits built up around us to keep us from finding it. If we truly understand these things, we actually end up finding a short cut to lasting peace. Let me explain.
The first thing we need to realize is that all communication directed at us as consumers, comes with a voice of fear or a voice of greed. You see it every day in Facebook posts, LinkedIn articles, or even in the news on the Web. It’s on television from CNN or Fox. It’s everywhere.
I think nothing emphasizes this more today than our national politics. There’s fear on both sides of the aisle. It often feels like we’ve stopped listening to one another and just assume that if someone disagrees with us politically then they want the worst for our country.
When it comes to greed, we’re living in the most abundant society that’s ever lived, yet we are constantly fed messages that we will never have enough. Want a simple example, look at the panic that happens when the stock market falls. You could have had a wonderful growth in your investments over the last year, but any temporary pullback and it’s human nature to measure your wealth from where you were at the peak. It’s a constant exercise to accumulate more and more.
Once you recognize that fear & greed is the message, then you begin to look for an antidote. The antidote I’ve noticed most people chasing is “happiness.” Unfortunately, this is just an exercise of moving from one extreme to the other. Why is this true? Because happiness is fleeting.
I may go on vacation. I’m happy while I’m on vacation, but when I come back to work, I find a pile of work waiting for me and suddenly my happiness is gone. Or, perhaps I’m a sports fan and throughout the season my team plays well. For a time, I’m happy, but what if they lose their last game? I’ve experienced happiness for the whole season, and now the final game risks leaving me unhappy until the next sports season begins.
What I discovered was that happiness is determined more by external influences on my life than something that I’m experiencing internally. In May of 2017, the Harris Group, verified this when they conducted their Happiness Study and found that only 33 percent of Americans say they’re happy.
If happiness isn’t the answer, then what is? I believe I’ve found the answer, but it may not be what you expect. Let me start by referencing a scripture before I tell you more.
Peace I leave you. My peace I give to you, not as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or be afraid. – John 14:27
Over the last 10 years I’ve been on a journey that God has accelerated. The journey has been one of chasing down this word peace and trying to discover what God’s peace really means. The revelation came to me in the phrase, “not as the world gives.”
Is it possible that the word peace has been hijacked? What if the original meaning of the word peace was so much grander than a definition we could look up in the dictionary? The original translation in the Jewish language, is the word shalom. Shalom and peace may be defined the same in English, but when I looked deeply into the original meaning, I found that shalom means so much more.
Michael Onifer wrote a book called “God, Israel, and You” that has a great definition of shalom. “The word shalom has a deeper, fuller meaning. It’s not just peace. It is prosperity and wholeness.” Think of peace as being this fullness of blessing.
The beautiful thing about sitting inside the shalom of God, is the idea that it starts internally. Rather than being affected by the external, we let God work from inside of us, and that internal change has an external effect on the world around us.
Does shalom mean there won’t be more recessions? No. Does it mean that we won’t have hardship? No. In our lives, we will face difficulty. Having shalom inside us allows us to sit in the middle of the difficulties and recognize that God is in control.
Have you ever seen a sleeping baby; one swaddled up in its mother’s arms and resting? My children could sleep through anything. It didn’t matter what kind of chaos was going on in life around them, if they were tired, and swaddled, they could sleep. This is Shalom. This is God’s gift to us. Will we accept it?
When did you last experience this type of peace when thinking about your family, your business or your wealth? At Paradiem, our process is designed to help you create faith, family and financial legacies that are built to last and give you peace. Do you have shalom? If not, let’s talk. We can help.